Do the dead remain active after they've left us? They live on in our memories, of course, but what if one of those major forks in the road – like the return of one of the slow-moving planets – presents itself some time after death? For a public figure, could this mean the person once more steps onto the public stage? I haven't done a lot of work on this, but the idea does interest me. And I had an example of it recently, again related to the Titanic.
Edward Smith, the Captain of the Titanic, was born on 27th January 1850. When I saw his chart about a year ago I was immediately drawn to his Neptune on 3 Pisces 29. I knew Neptune was in that general area because it was squaring my own Sun-Jupiter-Mercury conjunction in Gemini. So that meant Captain Smith was more or less having his Neptune return when the centenary of the Titanic sinking was being commemorated.
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The first of three exact returns occurred on 10th March 2013. It's by far the most interesting of the trio because of the number of planets concentrated in – of all signs – Pisces: six plus Chiron! There's also a Yod with Saturn and Pluto at its base and Jupiter – the traditional ruler of Pisces – at its apex. Is this a reminder of his violent death, leading to a watery grave? Incidentally, this Jupiter in the Neptune return chart is almost exactly conjunct the Sun at the moment of the Titanic's birth – its launch on 31st May 1911 (Sun was at 8 Gemini 56). I imagined the ghost of Captain Smith pointing to the Titanic as it slid down the slipway at Harland and Wolff shipyard and into Belfast Lough, as if to say 'this is the architect of my undoing.'
I also noticed that Captain Smith will be having a Uranus return fairly soon – again, the first of three will be exact on 20th May 2016. Funnily enough, this was around the time that Titanic II (a replica ship proposed by Australian billionaire Clive Palmer) was due to come into service but it seems this might not be happening now … or with Uranus involved, maybe it will after all ...
(Note that I have no time of birth for Captain Smith, but when I saw that his nodal axis was almost exactly conjunct the Ascendant in the Queenstown departure chart, I constructed a chart for him with the nodes on his MC/IC).
Returning to Margaret Rice, I decided to check her progressions for 6th October 2014, the date I started this piece of work. Her Sun had by now progressed to 7 Pisces 14. This was a jaw-dropping moment, because that's almost exactly where Neptune is in my Solar Return this year. And indeed, her nearby Mercury is conjunct my Solar Return Ascendant. Neptune to me is – amongst other things – about dissolving the veil between worlds and it seemed to be saying that the time is right for me to work with the Rice family.
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As if to confirm that, when I checked Eugene Rice's progressions for the same date, his progressed Sun and Mercury were both conjunct my natal North Node (all on 5 Aquarius) and his North Node was on my natal Mercury (5 Gemini).
Because their birthdays are so close, Margaret and Eugene have similar Solar Returns. Of the two, Eugene's is the stronger. With his Sun in close conjunction to the North Node and the IC (so right at the bottom of the chart) I'm reminded of a soul trapped in the Underworld – or in Eugene's case in the depths of the ocean. In The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, an opening to the upper world is cut for souls trapped in the land of the dead. They quiver with excitement, and when they step out into the night air they see the stars for the first time in years – centuries even. And as soon are they're free they merge with the sky, leaving a vivid burst of happiness, reminiscent of the bubbles in a glass of champagne.
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While I've been writing this, Venus has been moving further away from Earth and into the Sun's beams, on her way to conjunction with the Sun. This is one of the deepest parts of the Venus cycle, when we're taken away from our familiar selves to be immersed in our inner lives more than usual. It's a time when we could find ourselves surrounded by the dead, and/or feel moved to journey to the Underworld. We might discover abilities we didn't know we had and the courage to use them.
So it sounds like this is the ideal time for me to work with these long-dead relatives, to listen to their story, to soothe their troubled souls and release them from their unquiet graves. And perhaps one cold, dark night I might even catch sight of one or more of those bubbles bursting with happiness as their spirit is freed at last.